“A man can make a horrendous mistake in a bad moment with drink and temper, and however much he regrets it and does his best to change himself and aspire to be a better man, another moment of being less vigilent with one's faults can again bring him down and bring unhappiness to him and others around him. One may pity him, but one has to excuse those he harmed and are unable to love him again, or even forgive him, especially the young ones.
Thomas Hardy is a master in literature. And this is one of his best. Few books can be so heart wrenching about a man of such character.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Hardy belonged to an era when a few miles were a great separation, although people were traversing the Atlantic ocean regularly enough in search of livelihood and sometimes more than once in a lifetime. Perhaps it is that era or perhaps it is the author himself or it is a reflection of his times and his society, but invariably he makes his stance clear - unless there is subterfuge and trickery involved in saving a woman who made a mistake however small, pay she must and she does in his works for the mistake, often with her very life.
Tess was raped and she paid with loss of her marriage by her husband leaving her, insisting she was wife of the man who had raped her, and she eventually paid for it by being hanged for the murder of the rapist. Lucetta in this one is made to pay for having nursed a stranger to health and thus compromised her name, and if she marries another for love of the other or for fear of the one she nursed, no matter, society shall punish her so much she loses a baby prematurely and dies of shock.
Susan is sold by her husband to a stranger and she is over and over certified as innocent for having gone with him, no matter how wrong the husband was in the first place, and dies soon after attempt to correct her mistake. Her daughter is miserable for no fault of her own, is full of virtues and triumphs all her trials with the prescribed womanly virtues, except the unwillingness to forgive and inability to comprehend the actions of the man who made her miserable, and she is castigated without a word by the author towards the end for this.
The man who causes so much misery to various people is sketched best by the author with all his faults out in the open and his temper, his dark psyche and his violence not hidden, and his virtues clearly visible for all to see but not much dwelt on, with the theme being how he is respected and feared but never loved due to the complex mix of his nature. One cannot say one would be able to deal with him better if one met him, he might not allow that to happen to one any more than he did to Susan or her daughter or Farfrae, but the author nevertheless leaves one with a deep pity for the man whose mistakes and pride and temper and more caused so much misery to others - and to him. He gets the worst punishment after all in life, no one loves him, and few sympathise, fewer respect him past his loss of stature. He has attempted to rectify his mistakes by sacrificing much and achieved much, but his nature he could not change and so he lost all by steps, including the love of the daughter that could have been his.
Thursday, November 23, 2012